*drags feet toward bar cart*
*pours a bourbon at 10:00 a.m.*
*drags feet toward couch*
Hey Google, play that one-hit-wonder “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.
*screams into pillow*
• Injuries stink more than a Skunk’s gym locker, and the Chicago Bulls just can’t seem to shake them. The news surrounding Lonzo Ball’s knee soreness only got worse this morning, when it was reported the point guard had a small tear in his meniscus. While it was said that Ball and the team had to evaluate over the next 24-48 hours whether or not to choose surgery, the decision came only a couple of hours later. Ball will undergo surgery on his left knee shortly and is in line to miss up to two months.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 20, 2022
• Lonzo Ball’s surgery will surely have an impact on who the team asks to step up and how the front office conducts their business. An injured Ball makes every single player behind him on the roster that much more important, meaning every single player arguably becomes that much less expendable, specifically someone like Coby White.
• While recent reports have suggested the front office is not planning to move the third-year guard, it’s hard to believe he has been entirely off the table. Not only has this been a deep guard rotation, but the Bulls have a glaring hole in the frontcourt. One of the youngest players on the team with a deadly sparkplug scoring ability and improving all-around skillset, I’m sure someone at the deadline would pick up the phone and call Chicago about White. However, what might have been a short conversation before could now very well be no conversation at all. The Bulls need a familiar face like White more than ever before, and his recent play has shown he’s ready for that responsibility.
• FWIW: I have to assume all parties involved would always put Ball’s health over his finances, but ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out how Ball’s missed time could impact his current contract incentives.
From a financial perspective, Ball has $1M in bonuses (9 different sets ranging from $100K to $200K) in his contract for team wins and playoff success, However, each incentive is tied into playing 62 games this season. https://t.co/GwwLSjUyXn
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 20, 2022
• Don’t worry, we do have some good news on this emotional and freezing cold Thursday. Zach LaVine reportedly remains on track to return soon from his knee injury. While the Bulls have already announced that he will not travel with the team on the three-game road trip, Shams Charania did report on Stadium that the organization hopes to see him back on the floor for next Wednesday’s home game against the Toronto Raptors.
“I’m told there is hope that (Zach LaVine) will return in the near future…”
— Stadium (@Stadium) January 20, 2022
• The Chicago Bulls win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night felt huge. Not only was it a much-needed win after a four-game skid, but it came against one of the hottest teams in the league with a severe mismatch upfront. Thanks to Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Lauri Markkanen (yes, even him), the Cavs have a three-headed monster that can give many teams in today’s undersized league fits. We saw this in the Bulls’ first matchup against the Cavaliers back in December when they lost 115-92. The Cavs recorded 8 blocks, won the defensive rebounding battle 37-26, and held the Bulls to just a 41.7 field goal percentage. Without Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Javonte Green, and Derrick Jones Jr. last night, it felt like history could very well repeat itself, but the Bulls reminded all of us just how talented they can be.
• Chicago did a much better job forcing the Cavs’ bigs to guard in space. They used their multiple ballhandlers to keep the Cavs’ defense on its toes, and they used their crisp ball movement to keep them behind the offensive action. DeRozan and Dosunmu were the catalysts for the team’s swift playmaking, as Dosunmu finished with the third 8+ assist game of his career. DeRozan walked off the court with seven assists, and four of those dishes came in the final frame. Overall, the Bulls shot 54.7 percent from the field behind 25 total assists.
• Nikola Vucevic finally brought the physicality last night. While he may have struggled to hit the outside shot, Vucevic made nine of his 12 shots within 11 feet of the basket. He finished over two of the better rim-protectors in the league numerous times, and one can only hope this performance helped him build some confidence heading into a matchup against Giannis and Co. this Friday.
• As I touched on in last night’s Enhanced Box Score, Caruso’s intangibles are special. It’s no coincidence the team looked the most energetic they have in quite some time, and DeRozan made sure to mention it after the game:
Everything he brings, the energy, the presence, the leadership, it goes a long way. His voice in the locker room, before we go out there onto the court, and in the huddles, halftime, it’s something we definitely lean on and feed on.
You see tonight we were a different kind of team. The wings feed off AC. What he generates defensively, gives us opportunities to get out in transition. That’s what you see tonight. I think we’re at our best when we’re able to do that.
• Nothing is more Caruso than immediately guarding Kevin Love after a month-long hiatus.
They really think he can guard everyone. https://t.co/TSkXxt2afk
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) January 20, 2022
• (1) I can’t believe this stat. (2) The Bulls really need to bolster their frontcourt depth to hang with this dude come playoff time.
Joel Embiid had 50 points and 12 rebounds in 27:03.
That's the fewest minutes played in a 50-point, 10-rebound game in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 20, 2022
• Speaking of (2) …
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 20, 2022
• If every shot was a buzzer-beater, DeRozan would shoot at least 90 percent from the field.
• As long as it ends in the right hire, take as long as you need.
It Looks Like the Bears’ GM Interviews Will Stretch into a Third Weekhttps://t.co/xNiRgTuQPt
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 20, 2022